How Full is Your Bucket?

How full is your bucket is a theory developed from the lifelong work of Don Clifton Ph.D. and contains the most compelling discoveries he gathered in over half a century of work in his field of Positive Psychology.

Early in his research Don discovered that our lives are shaped by our interactions with others. Whether we have a long conversation with a friend or simply place an order at a restaurant, every interaction makes a difference. The results of our encounters are rarely neutral; they are almost always positive or negative. Although we may take these interactions for granted, they accumulate and profoundly affect our lives.

The Theory of the Dipper and the Bucket

Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful.
Each of us also has an invisible dipper. When we use that dipper to fill other people’s buckets – by saying or doing things to increase their positive emotions – we also fill our own bucket, but when we use that dipper to dip from others’ buckets – by saying or doing things that decrease their positive emotions – we diminish ourselves.

According to the theory, the key to great bucket filling is that “Recognition is most appreciated and effective when it is individualized, specific and deserved.” The point is everyone’s bucket is filled (and diminished) in different ways. What fills my bucket will not necessarily fill yours. Try finding our what fills the buckets of your friends, family and colleagues. The bucket interview below may be helpful.

The Bucket Filling Interview

1. By which name do you prefer to be called?
2. What are your ‘hot buttons,’ hobbies or interests that you like to talk about a lot?
3. What increases your positive emotions, or ‘fills your bucket’ the most?
4. From whom do you most like to receive recognition or praise?
5. What type of praise, or recognition do you like best? Do you like public, private,
written, verbal, or other kinds of recognition?
6. What form of recognition motivates you the most? Do you like gift certificates, a
meaningful note of email, or something else?
7. What is the greatest recognition you have ever received?

“Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon.” Winnie the Pooh

Lee Jellis Student Wellbeing Coordinator